As the weeks go on, Eagles fans are still wondering when a possible Zach Ertz trade will happen.
Now that we’re past June 1, cutting or trading Ertz will earn the Eagles an extra $8.5 million in cap space. According to the NFLPA Public Salary Cap report, Philly has about $4.9 million in cap space to work with.
They just signed rookie JaCoby Stevens, who will carry a cap hit of $692,677, leaving just one rookie unsigned at this point, second round pick Landon Dickerson. Thanks to the league having salary structures for rookies, we have an idea of what Dickerson’s contract will look like. His cap hit should come out to about $1.5 million.
So once each rookie is signed, the team will have approximately $2.5 million in cap space to work with, assuming the NFLPA’s report hasn’t adjusted the Eagles cap hit after the Stevens signing yet.
They don’t technically need to shed Ertz’s cap before the season, which was the general consensus around the league for the past few months. If that were the case, the Eagles would have no leverage whatsoever. Now that it’s pretty clear they’ll be fine without dealing Ertz and his contract, they can play a little hard ball with potential trade partners.
But with the recent signing of veteran tight end Richard Rodgers, the could entail a Zach Ertz departure is on the horizon. Even if some Eagles players are confident that Ertz will return to the team.
Howie Roseman has stated time and time again this offseason that he won’t deal Ertz just because he wants out. Roseman wants some significant value for his former All-Pro tight end. You can’t really blame him for that.
The general idea around the Ertz-Eagles dilemma is that if the team continues to hold out on trading him, the value he’ll bring in return will continue to dwindle. But I actually don’t see it that way. There’s only one scenario where Ertz garners solid value on the trade market, and that’s if a team’s starting tight end goes down with a significant injury during offseason workouts or training camp.
Now obviously we shouldn’t be hoping that happens just so we get something higher than a fifth round pick in return for Ertz, it’s just the reality of the situation.
As Eagles fans, we’ve seen this type of stuff happen in the past. Take the Sam Bradford trade in 2016 as an example. If Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater didn’t go down with a season ending injury prior to the season, there’s no way Bradford would’ve garnered a first round pick in a trade.
The Eagles got pretty lucky in that situation, but why should they treat this Ertz situation any differently? Regardless of how slim the chances are of a starting tight end going down with an injury prior to Week 1, what do the Eagles have to lose by waiting? They have enough cap space to enter the season without cutting or trading Ertz and they won’t get anything better than a sixth round pick if they trade him right now.
Maybe Howie could work some magic and get a fourth or third round pick, but that would be highway robbery and whichever team puckers up for that deal should be mocked.
Say that doesn’t happen and the Ertz trade market is still dry, then what?
Well, Ertz can forego some of his salary for each practice he misses and continue to hold out, but that’s on him at that point. He’s under contract with the team, the team isn’t obligated to give him a pay raise or get rid of him while he’s under contract. Especially after coming off his worst statistical season as a pro.
I love Ertz just as much as the next guy. But you signed a contract and you played like shit last season. You can’t just demand a trade when your value is at an all-time low and expect the team to give in. The NFL is a business and the Eagles organization understands that.
I’ve said numerous times throughout the offseason that an Ertz trade will happen any day now, but at this point, the Eagles should just wait until they get a good offer. They don’t need to shed his cap space and there’s always a chance that a team will send more value than expected if they deem it necessary.